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The A.R.T. makes an ass of itself: The Donkey Punch transforms Zero Arrow into OBERON

The American Repertory Theater's Zero Arrow theater is no more; it has been stomped to cosmic dust under the glitter-crusted platform heels of The Donkey Show -- a bacchanalian performance piece so over-the-top, it's apparently inspired the A.R.T. to completely overhaul its scrappy black-box venue in Harvard Square. On August 21, the space at 2 Arrow Street will be reborn as OBERON.

Described as being "kind of like Studio 54," the new A.R.T.-helmed theater space rips its identity straight from The Donkey Show, which will be the debut production performed within its weird, weird walls. The brainchild of A.R.T. artistic director Diane Paulus, The Donkey Show (which ran for six years off-Broadway and toured through Europe) is essentially A Midsummer Night’s Dream re-envisioned as a Baz Luhrmann-esque orgy "of mirror balls and feathered divas" set in a '70s discotheque. The self-consciously capitalized OBERON is a riff on the character of Mr. Oberon, The Donkey Show's sleazy club owner and husband to coked-out disco starlet Tytania.

As capricious as it may sound, this change is permanent. Even after The Donkey Show roller-boogies out of OBERON, the transformed venue will keep its new persona and will continue to host fourth-wall-busting spectacles. Imagine this: tweeting and texting, drinking and dancing will be welcome.

So what does this den of subversive drama and wanton tweeting look like? No snapshots yet, but we're told you can get a decent idea of the overall style from these photos (which depict a prior out-of-town performance of The Donkey Show).

Tantalized by salacious preview photos, we've been eagerly waiting for The Donkey Show to dive-bomb Harvard Square for weeks now, and the news about the new space has made our culture-boners just that much harder. But will OBERON be able to deliver on its promises, or will this endeavor end up as just another disillusioning donkey punch to local theatergoers? We'll find out soon enough.

The Donkey Show runs August 21-October 31, at OBERON, 2 Arrow St, Cambridge | $25-$39 | 617.547.8300 or www.americanrepertorytheater.org.

Watch the preview trailer here:


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